Photoreduction of azoalkanes by direct hydrogen abstraction from 1,4-cyclohexadiene, alcohols, stannanes, and silanes

Adam, Waldemar ; Moorthy, Jarugu N. ; Nau, Werner M. ; Scaiano, J. C. (1997) Photoreduction of azoalkanes by direct hydrogen abstraction from 1,4-cyclohexadiene, alcohols, stannanes, and silanes Journal of Organic Chemistry, 62 (23). pp. 8082-8090. ISSN 0022-3263

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A mechanistic investigation of the photoreduction of the n,π* triplet-excited azo chromophore has been carried out on azoalkanes 1, which exhibit efficient intersystem-crossing quantum yields (ca. 0.5). The azoalkanes 1a and 1b undergo facile photoreduction to the corresponding hydrazines in the presence of a variety of hydrogen donors, which include 2-propanol, benzhydrol, 1,4-cyclohexadiene, tributylstannane, and tris(trimethylsilyl)silane. In contrast, the hydrazine yields derived for the azoalkanes 1c and 1d are significantly lower even at high hydrogen donor concentrations due to their lower triplet yields and shorter triplet lifetimes. A clear dependence of the hydrazine yields on the bond dissociation energies of the hydrogen donors has been observed, which is reflected in the quenching rate constants obtained from time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy. The absolute rate constants for interaction of the triplet azoalkane 1a with hydrogen donors are generally lower (ca. 10-100-fold) than for benzophenone, in line with the less favorable reaction thermodynamics. The comparison of the rate constants for quenching of the triplet-excited azoalkane 1a and of the singlet-excited state of 2,3-diazabicyclo[2.2.2]oct-2-ene (DBO) reveals a similar reactivity of excited azoalkanes toward hydrogen donors; differences can be accounted for in terms of variations in the energies of the excited states. The interactions of the excited azoalkanes with tributylstannane and benzhydrol produce the radicals characteristic for hydrogen abstraction from these substrates, namely tributylstannyl and hydroxydiphenylmethyl radicals, which were detected through their transient absorptions at 390 and 550 nm, respectively. Interestingly, compared to the photoreduction of benzophenone with benzhydrol, for which the quantum yield for conversion to radicals is unity, between the azoalkane 1a and benzhydrol this efficiency is only ca. 12%. An associative effect through N···H-O bonding is held responsible, which promotes hydrogen transfer versus diffusion out of the caged radical pair. The quenching of the singlet-excited DBO by toluene was also employed to monitor the formation of benzyl radicals (at 317 nm). The photolysis of DBO in tetrahydrofuran as solvent and quencher produced an absorption at ca. 290 nm, which was tentatively assigned to the corresponding hydrazinyl radical.

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